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Meta Monetising the Metaverse: What We Already Know

Since its rebrand in October 2021, Meta Platforms, known for its Facebook and Instagram social media networks, has been looking for ways to take advantage of what it boasted would be the next big tech frontier: the metaverse. Just this week, Meta announced the inevitable next step. They are now trying out ways for content creators (and themselves, potentially) to make money from it.

meta in world purchases
Credit: Meta

In a statement released on 11 April 2022, Meta Platforms announced that they would test new tools for creators to make money off content being produced on its Horizon Worlds virtual reality platform. Here are some details of what they intend to do:

  • An initial cohort of creators will receive the ability to sell items or offer premium access to certain areas of their virtual world space (equivalent to website paywalls or premium user programmes), partly by offering e-commerce tools.

  • The company will create a monetary bonus programme for some U.S.-based creators, which is essentially a goal-based monthly rewards scheme; initially, they will test rewards for creators who have the highest amount of user engagement time with their space on Horizon Worlds, but they will roll out further goals in the coming months.

  • Analytics tools are also being rolled out to allow creators to see user engagement statistics in the same way current users of Facebook and Instagram can track such data; these measures have enabled users to fine-tune ways of making and releasing content to generate potential revenue on those platforms.

While Meta promises that monthly bonuses will be paid in full to content creators, the company will likely charge some fees for creators who sell items on the metaverse or do anything else to make money off their content. This is the clearest signal we have so far that, as with platforms that promised the lofty goal of “connection” like Facebook, there will come a point when their developers figure out how they can recoup their investment in those platforms.

Apart from the new monetisation tools, Meta is announcing new funding opportunities for creators on Horizon Worlds for them to make quality content, including new accelerator programme opportunities and in-world creative competitions. These measures may also drive monetisation indirectly, as better content (perceived by visitors, of course) generates the kind of metrics that draw potential revenue streams.

Although Meta’s measures are the clearest indication yet that it sees the metaverse as a business opportunity for itself and users of its services, this may be a little belated as content creators are already seeking such opportunities on other platforms to tap into the metaverse's economic possibilities. Companies such as JP Morgan are planning to offer virtual world banking services, and the first-ever Metaverse Fashion Week drew established and lesser-known designers to showcase their work. The platform of choice for these is not Horizon Worlds. They all chose to be on Decentraland, which is a more decentralized, blockchain-based platform that is proving to be far more of a wide-open frontier than Meta’s walled-off borders.

We can surmise that the goal of Meta’s monetisation initiatives is to attract more users to Horizon Worlds, whether creators or visitors and make it the one-stop shop for the metaverse. Whether Meta repeats its Facebook success is something we will continue to watch.

  • Meta Platforms announced on Monday (12 April 2022) that it is testing new ways its content creators can make money on its Horizon Worlds virtual platform.

  • Among the measures they announced are tools to enable the sale of items or premium content by creators, analytic tools and funding to develop creative content that may drive user engagement.

  • Meta’s measures come as other businesses engage with more open platforms such as Decentraland, including those in the traditionally lucrative fashion and financial services industries.

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